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    Philosophy Student Handbook

  • Admission

  • Courses in the Department of Philosophy combine deep intellectual analyses of important thinkers with a robust and comprehensive survey of their important thoughts. Through studying both, students learn underlying concepts and examine bigger intellectual implications.

    Please consult the New School Course Catalog for a full list of courses. Spring 2023 courses include: 

    Modern Deductive Logic, GPHI 5016
    Vincent Peluce, Part-Time Lecturer 

    The purpose of this course is to provide students with knowledge and understanding of the basic concepts of modern deductive logic, both in syntax and semantics. We start with sentential logic and discuss methods of constructing truth tables, truth trees, and derivations (for the systems of both SD and SD+). We then turn to predicate logic and consider certain differences and similarities between sentential and predicate logic and adjust the methods of truth trees and derivations to predicate logic.

    Hegel's Phenomenology of SpiritGPHI 6022
    Jay Bernstein, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy 

    In the second half of this year-long study of Hegel's pivotal early work, our focus is on the chapter on "Spirit." In it, Hegel proposes that reflective self-understanding of ourselves as modern, self-determining subjects is a historical accomplishment, and hence that philosophical self-consciousness is necessarily historically mediated. Central to his argument is his account of the Greek world represented in Sophocles' Antigone (against which a variety of feminist critiques have been lodged), the French Revolution and the Terror, and the critique of the moral philosophies of Kant and Fichte (against which a variety of Kantian counters have been lodged). We then turn to Hegel's account of "Religion," which raises the question of whether Hegel's system is merely a philosophical interpretation of Christian revelation or an atheistic system whose core ideals are merely anticipated by Christianity. Finally, we study Hegel's account of "Absolute Knowing" (his ultimate defense of idealism against epistemological realism) and his conception of philosophy as "speculative" writing in the "Preface." Consideration of contemporary accounts of Hegel's idealism by Pippin, Brandom, and others are a leitmotif of our reflections. 

    Kant's Critique of Pure ReasonGPHI 6065
    James Dodd, Professor of Philosophy 


    This course involves a close reading of the Critique of Pure Reason. Among the topics we analyze in class are the motivations for the Copernican turn; the synthetic a priori; the nature of space, timem and causality; transcendental idealism as the thesis that we know appearances and not things in themselves; Kant's understanding of subjectivity; the transcendental deduction; and Kant's claim that rational thinking results in unavoidable metaphysical illusions (e.g., the Antinomies).

    NietzscheGPHI 6083
    Daniel Rodriguez-Navas, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

    This seminar introduces students to Nietzsche’s thought through his On the Genealogy of Morality. We will some of the main concepts and motifs of his work (nihilism, the death of God, the will to power, the will to truth, knowledge, values, history, art) by considering his treatment of them in the Genealogy and tracing its development through earlier works. We also dedicate considerable attention to the reception of Nietzsche’s thought, and the different (and disparate) figures of Nietzsche that have been drawn in the secondary literature.

    Plato and the SophistsGPHI 6149  
    Cinzia Arruzza, Associate Professor of Philosophy 


    This lecture course focuses on Plato’s philosophical and political battle against the Sophists and their influence on Athenian politics and education. In the first part of the course, we read fragments and extant works by Antiphon, Critias, Gorgias, Prodicus, and Protagoras and discuss the Sophists’ contribution to the secularization of Athenian politics and the debate concerning the relation between discourse and truth, rhetoric and virtue, nature and convention. In the second part of the course, we examine Plato’s critiques of the Sophists in the dialogues Protagoras and Gorgias

    Thinking GenocideGPHI 6155
    Alan Bass, Part-Time Faculty 


    In this course, we attempt to answer the question of why genocide is a constant in human history. We trace the historical record of genocides, examine some of the social science literature on genocide, and then integrate the literature with psychoanalytic and philosophical considerations.

    History of Analytic PhilosophyGPHI 6291
    Alice Crary, University Distinguished Professor

    Ordinary language philosophy (OLP) has long been a contested tradition in analytic philosophy. What should we make of it? This seminar is concerned with the significance and philosophical and political reception of the work of major figures in this tradition, above all, J.L. Austin and Ludwig Wittgenstein. It is designed for students who have and students who have not studied these philosophers closely. The first third of the seminar will be dedicated to an introduction to major themes of their thought. We then turn to how, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, figures in Anglo-American philosophy and European philosophy argued that Austin, Wittgenstein, Austin, and others counseled a limited and uncritical approach to political and philosophical problems. We discuss respects in which, since then, philosophers on both sides of the so-called Continental divide have continued in this vein, inviting us to regard OLP as conservative or even reactionary. This discussion brings us to the work of philosophers such as Stanley Cavell, Cora Diamond, and Hannah Pitkin, who argue that conservative readings of this philosophical corpus are untenable. In connection with this material, we consider the possibility of a fresh positive articulation of OLP’s political interest. We look at those who reject suggestions of conservatism and align OLP with classical liberalism or strains of Marxist thought, and we conclude by considering the possibility that this tradition is politically pertinent, and contested, precisely because it equips us to challenge both late capitalism's emphasis on instrumental reason and the conception of political rationality, central to contemporary liberal thought, that is the counterpart of this image of reason. 

    Critique of Aesthetic ReasonGPHI 6755
    Gregg Horowitz

    This course will pursue a critical history of modern aesthetics. We begin by exploring how aesthetics emerged as a philosophical discourse in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in response to a unique pressure on cognition and recognition that was conceptualized as "aesthetic experience." Our key texts here are Kant’s Critique of Judgment, Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, and Hegel’s Lectures on Fine Art. We then examine criticisms of the idea that it is in the power of philosophy to circumscribe such experience. The key texts here are Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy and essays by Emerson and Freud. Finally, we investigate what remains of the task of aesthetic theory in the wake of the criticisms of Nietzsche, Emerson, and Freud by reading texts by Adorno, Cavell, Kristeva, and Danto. 

    Rethinking ClassGPHI 6756 
    Nancy Fraser, Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Political and Social Science

    The concept of class has had its ups and downs. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, it was widely viewed by leftists as the central fault line of capitalist societies, even as they debated how best to conceive it and how best to understand its relation to other politicized divides. Subsequently, however, class lost much of its conceptual cachet. The increased centrality of post–New Left struggles over gender, race, and empire brought suspicions of “class essentialism” and “class reductionism,” while neoliberalism weakened traditional labor radicalism and labor unions. By the end of the 20th century, “class theory” was widely neglected if not despised. Today, however, the fortunes of the category are on the rise again. With renewed interest in capitalism and socialism comes revived interest in class—in both its orthodox and unorthodox guises. It's an opportune moment, therefore, to revisit class. In this seminar, we canvass major theoretical and practical debates surrounding this concept, both historical and contemporary. We reconsider, for example, the relative merits of structural definitions of class, as a relation to the means of production, versus cultural-political definitions of class, as something made by social actors—as well as the related distinction between “class-in-itself” and “class-for-itself.” We also revisit attempts to theorize intermediate classes and subproletarian strata, as well as various “new class” theories. Likewise, we take up current debates over class as one among several intersecting or interlocking systems of oppression. Finally, we evaluate my own recent proposal to develop a new, expanded conception of class, based on an expanded view of capitalism and an expanded view of what counts as work. When finalized, the list of readings will likely include such thinkers as Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, W.E.B. DuBois, Nicos Poulantzas, E.P. Thompson, Joan W. Scott, Louis Althusser, Carolyn Steedman, Erik Olin Wright, Pierre Bourdieu, Cedric Robinson, Iris Marion Young, David Roediger, William Sewell Jr, Charles Mills, Lise Vogel, Ashley Bohrer, and me.


    Psychoanalytic BodiesGPHI 6775
    Jamieson Webster, Part-Time Assistant Professor

    How does psychoanalysis think of the body? Are we a body or do we have a body? Can we make the body equivalent to the drive—what Freud called his speculative fiction at the limit of the somato-psychic? What is the difference between the erogenous body and the anatomical one composed of flesh, organs, fluids, and genitals? And what about the problem of distinguishing between body and language—only vaguely resolved by the term “embodiment” or “materiality”? Is psychoanalysis itself a work with a patient‘s body or their language? We search for the body in psychoanalysis, reading the work of thinkers from Freud to Klein, Kristeva, Ferenczi, and Lacan to Nancy, Foucault, Preciado, and others. 

    Origin StoriesGPHI 6795  
    Gwen Grewal, Onassis Lecturer in Ancient Greek Thought and Language

    The nebulous notion of “origins” lies at the heart of many ancient Greek myths. These tales do not have a single root but rather were and are ever mutating in their circulation throughout the Mediterranean from near and far, eventually making their way down through history’s telephone line to us. Indeed, it was not as “the Greeks” that the Greeks came to be Greeks but rather through their relationship to that which was “non-Greek”—a phrase captured by the onomatopoeic word barbaros, which refers to what was perceived to be the incomprehensible sound of the foreign ("bar-bar") in contrast to Greek. Yet just as Greece was not unified in dialect or culture, as a sound and a word barbaros must be both original and derivative. Greekness could only have come from non-Greekness, for a people only becomes familiar to itself by recasting its once inscrutable origin as newly germane. The claim to an “original” genos—the word's broad meanings include “race,” “family,” “gender,” and “political allegiance”—thus demands a story that can blur the genetic and the cosmic, the familiar and the foreign. Ideally, this would be a story that flies through the air with no traceable source: a self-generating tale of self-generation. Philosophy is no exception, and its relationship to myth-making—or, more broadly, to poetry—peaks in the attempt to tap the fount from which all things, but especially human things, have emerged. In this course, we examine “origins” as a nexus of the philosophical and the poetic—as stories we tell to substantiate our roots and theories we form about the roots of our substance. We focus on texts that blur these lines in intriguing ways. We also consider how this blurring is at work not only in the nostalgic reinvention of Greek antiquity in the 18th and 19th centuries but also in the contemporary claim that antiquity is the problematic origin of our own inheritance. Authors read include Hesiod, Herodotus, Euripides, and/or Plato. 

    Socialism and AnarchismGPHI 6799
    Chiara Bottici, Associate Professor of Philosophy, and Nancy Fraser, Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Political and Social Science 

    In the long history of efforts to conceive alternatives to capitalism, two terms stand out: socialism and anarchism. But what is their relation to one another? Are they antithetical or complementary? What are the insights and blind spots of each? Are there good reasons to prefer one to the other—above all, at the present conjuncture? These questions form the heart of our seminar. We address them both historically and systematically. We begin with early texts, such the Manifesto of the Equals (1796), in which anarchism and socialism are one and the same anti-capitalist philosophy, and then explore the historic debate between Marx and Bakunin, which focused on the state and the role of the party, to which the split between the two perspectives is usually attributed. But we also examine exchanges between anarchists and socialists on other timely questions—including the family and ecology. Readings by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Karl Marx, Mikhail Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Friedrich Engels, Alexandra Kollontai, Emma Goldman, He Zhen, Maria Mies, David Graebner, Chiara Bottici, and others.  

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